GERING, NE – In a quick pit stop back at home on Tuesday, the Western Nebraska Pioneers closed out their regular season series with the Hastings Sodbusters in dominating fashion, winning by a 12-1 margin in front of a crowd of over 1,000 fans at Oregon Trail Park Stadium.
With the win, the Pioneers (32-12) finish the regular season 13-3 against Hastings (20-27), and 8-0 against the Sodbusters away from Duncan Field. On Tuesday, it was clear that everything was working for the Pioneers. They scored four runs in the first inning on just one hit, as Sodbusters right-hander starter Gavin Gragg struggled with command. Gragg, making his first start of the year after 16 relief appearances, allowed five runs (three earned) on six walks, four hits and three strikeouts over five innings of work.
The Pioneers got a masterful outing from their newest arm, Mount Marty College right-hander Jeremiah Mauch. A new look for the Hastings lineup, Match carved through the Sodbusters on just 83 pitches over 7 innings of one-run ball, striking out six and walking just one and allowing four hits. Behind him, Matt Delcambre and Cameron Richman both tossed scoreless innings to secure the win.
The offense was the real story for the Pioneers, especially in the later innings. Hastings reliever Sam Colehower, working out of the bullpen for the first time all season, surrendered a three-run home run to Hobbs Nyberg when zero outs were recorded in the the sixth. In the eighth inning, Colton Onstott took Colehower deep for an opposite-field grand slam, the first in Pioneers history. The icing on the cake came later in the eighth, when Pioneers pitcher Jack Sinclair laced a solid single into left field in his first collegiate-level at-bat.
The Pioneers, now twenty games above .500 and winners of eight straight at home, will hit the road on Wednesday to visit the Badlands Big Sticks in Dickinson, North Dakota. Conner Deeds, back with the team after a month-plus hiatus, is expected to start.